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For Jerome Rogers, living in his low-income Chicago neighborhood can be dangerous, but so can going to middle school. There, Jerome is the target of three bullies, Eddie, Snap, and Mike, who enjoy doing things to him like dumping out his backpack, hitting him on the head, or pulling down his pants. Jerome has no friends, and eats his lunch in a bathroom, locker room or supply closet - hiding out alone.
That is, until Carlos arrives. Carlos is the new kid in school and Jerome unwillingly ends up showing him the ropes to avoid the bullies. But when they are discovered in a boy's bathroom eating lunch, Carlos pulls a gun on the bullies, Eddie, Snap, and Mike. Not realizing it's a toy gun, the bullies back down.
Carlos gives the gun to Jerome. He doesn’t really want it, but takes it anyway. One day, he is allowed to go out and play and he takes the toy gun with him. Jerome is playing an imaginary game of good guy/bad guy in a rundown park when police arrive. An officer shoots him in the back when he tries to run away.
Jerome is killed on the spot. The officer claims he had no choice but to shoot, that he thought Jerome was bigger, older and had a real gun, and despite shooting him from his patrol car, he said he feared for his life.
The chapters switch between Jerome's real life when he was alive and his life now, as a ghost. He is privy to seeing things he never would have seen when he was alive. Jerome goes to his home and observes what life is now like for his – family. He also finds himself in the bedroom of Sarah the daughter of the police officer who shot him.
Jerome is learning about what happened to him and about the aftermath. He must face racism head on. He encounters other ghost boys from as far back as 1955 who help him along his way.
Even though this book sounds horribly depressing, the author leaves the reader with a reason to hope that change is possible. Read to find out who the agent of change becomes for Jerome, and how you too can be such an agent.
A well-written, moving, and engaging book about an all-too common occurrence in our inner cities.
Jewell Parker Rhodes is a gift. She writes with wisdom, sensitivity, and serious skill. The novel is spare in prose, heavy in dialog. Ghost Boys moves in and out of harder sequences; a gentle offering, and yet determined to be honest with the horror of reality. She does not look away, and neither will you. She lifts the lid on that casket in that next to last chapter. We see the full humanity and horror.
Jerome’s is a beautiful soul. We’ll only know a small corner of its breadth. JPR won’t allow it to be unremembered or even misremembered. Ghost Boys is a novel that will leave a mark. It will inspire curiosity, a desire to learn more about the boys we’ve lost to similar violence— Tamir Rice. Laquan McDonald. Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. Jordan Edwards. to name very few. Ghost Boys will inspire a desire to join with those who wish for a world where these lives matter.
This book provides a great realistic take on the perspective of a black youth of whom is a victim of racial bias. You would want to read the story again. For ages 10 and up.
Black lives matter come to light in this novel from the point of the main character in this novel. Before he was killed by a police office and after. This makes for an interesting take on what it actually feels like for the victim. An intense read that will resonate with you after you finish it.
Racial bias, unintentional or not, within a police force is a serious issue, as well as a complex one. This was a well-done book that is appropriate for 6th/7th graders, depending upon your/their tolerance for violence. It's not overly graphic, but it could be disturbing for children who have had no exposure to the fact that children their age are victims of violence at the hands of adults & even police officers. (Not to say that they shouldn't read it) It's also a good book to start having some harder conversations with white children as to the history of our country as it relates to how blacks, especially young black boys, have been treated.
Jerome is a good kid living in a poor neighborhood in Chicago. He is shot by a police officer who thought the gun in his hand was real, rather than the toy that it was. The story looks at how this event impacts not only Jerome's family, as he watches over them as a ghost, but the officer's family as well. Jerome also learns he's not alone, as he's joined by the ghost of Emmett Till, a non-fictional boy Jerome's age, who was killed in Mississippi in 1955. It's a moving story and very well done. Highly recommended.
Taking me less than 24-hours to finish, 'Ghost Boys' is an easy read and was immediately a favorite. Rhodes interpretation of this fictional narrative of a Black teenage boy shot by a White cop is realistic, descriptive, and heart-provoking, and will leave readers of all ages asking themselves questions about current race relations and reactions.
Overall, while it took me a while to finish the book, I think it’s a great story for young readers to read and even understand what’s going on in the world today. I think the story is handled well and that the author doesn’t shy away from talking about grief, but also including how different cultures honor the dead. I think Jerome, being a young boy, gives the perspective of someone different as compared to teenagers or parents like in the other books of this nature. The story is importance, and I think the story is handled well. It’s emotional and holds historical importance. I can understand why someone might find it heavy-handed in the topic, and while I agree to a small extent, I think the author finds a balance.
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This is a book that I'm glad exists... and hate that it has to. This timely middle-grade story combines the threads of a twelve-year-old boy shot and killed by police who mistake his toy gun for the real deal with that of Emmett Till and countless other "ghost boys" who died as a result of prejudice and racism. It's a story of bearing witness to these injustices, handled at an age-appropriate level, which is to say, it doesn't flinch from its subject matter but also handles it lightly enough to encourage conversation and empathy.
I read this heart-wrenching, powerful, and gripping book in one day! Jerome, a 12 year old Black boy, is shot and killed by a white police officer who mistakes the toy gun he is holding for a real one. As a ghost, Jerome sees what happens to his family, the officer's family, and the community. He meets another ghost who was senselessly murdered, Emmett Till. Till shows Jerome the hundreds of other "ghost boys" who were also murdered and are now roaming their communities.
This is a tough book to read but the author does a great job of tackling timely issues (racial bias, bullying, gun violence) in a way that young readers will understand and enjoy. This is also a great book for parents to read first then share with their children. It can be a useful tool when having conversations about these types of current social issues.